Album Review: Kim Churchill - Detail of Distance (2012 LP)

Detail of Distance is the exciting second album from Merimbula native Kim Churchill. My first listen of this album was done blind so to speak. I responded to an offer for review from my editor on a whim, I didn’t do any initial research; there was no googling of Kim Churchill. Instead I just decided to list to the record and see where it went from there. By the end of that first listen, I was glad I responded to that email; I was completely blown away by not only the musicianship on show throughout the record, but also by Churchill’s intelligent and thoughtful lyrics.

So that seemed as good a time as any to do a little research; the fact that he is only in his early twenties served only to make the whole record seem all that more impressive. There is maturity to the record, both in terms of the sound, but also in the lyricism. The record ebbs and flows, shifting from folky introspection, with plaintive finger picking to glorious rocking numbers, which just sweep you up. The album features a health dosage of distortion, whether it be vocals, guitar, or blues harp. It all serves to give the record this sense of bigness and an undeniable cinematic quality.

Throughout the record I was reminded fleetingly of other musicians, the usual, “oh that sounds a bit like” kind of thing. There were the occasional moments where the guitar breakdown reminded me of John Butler, or Xavier Rudd. Whilst opening track “Coded in Concrete” at times reminded me of Eddie Vedder, and could really have been a missing track from his Into the Wild soundtrack.

Given that Churchill is working within the same genre as these guys, and in some cases counts them as inspirations, it comes as no surprise that there are a few hints of them in the mix. Yet Churchill manages to create a record that sounds unlike anything by those veterans of the genre; the inclusion of the trumpet and the fiddle in the mix is inspired, bringing an added richness to the sound.

Picking favourites from a record of this quality is always difficult, and with this record especially so. "Bathed In Black" is probably my standout favourite, with this great thumping rhythm and fantastic guitar work. "Seasons Grind” is another excellent track, a brilliant first single. Replete with wailing harmonica, driving guitar and a great catchy chorus, this is a track that would surely bring any crowd to its feet. The record on a whole is incredibly consistent both in style and quality, and one, which I feel given the chance, should be listened to in its entirety and not placed at the mercy of the shuffle button.

It’s a well known fact that Australia has a strong and rich folk and roots musical community, with the likes of John Butler and Xavier Rudd taking their music to audiences around the world. Detail of Distance heralds the arrival of another prodigious talent and stands as one of the genres undeniable highlights of the year so far.

Review Score: 9.2 out of 10